This article is from the May 1999 The Mexico File
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Thoughts on a New Year’s Eve
by Karen Kressin
Karen Kressin, from
Kansas, contributed an article on “Taking Kids to Mexico” in the May and
June 1998 issues of The Mexico File.
She and her family are planning a trip to Guadalajara this summer.
It's about one o'clock in
the afternoon on December 31, and I am sitting in a supermarket in Kansas with
my healthy and well-fed young daughter. We are eating pizza sold by the slice
and Caesar salad sold by the ounce. The eating area is near the fresh pastry
section of the store. While we eat, I notice a slight, dark-haired man wearing
tan longsleeved laborer's coveralls and heavy boots. The boots and coveralls are
smudged with earth. He sets a gallon of milk down on the floor in front of the
glass doors of the display shelves and fills two small boxes with donuts and
sweet rolls. As he turns to pass me on his way to the checkout, I notice that
his features are mestizo. This is a worker, probably without documents,
let off at noon for the holiday, picking up a little merienda for the
evening and a little reminder of family life he certainly misses most on
one year ago today, my family and I were enjoying comida corrida at an
open-air restaurant in Guanajuato. Maybe you are from Guanajuato? These days I
have been remembering each day of that two-week visit to your country. But your
family in Mexico would not be able to afford restaurant meals like we ate in
Guanajuato. And you are not there with them; you are here, in the shadows,
hiding from the law, working hard and accumulating money to send home. Much of
the money you send is lost in currency exchange, transfer fees, and sheer
thievery. You never know when you will be arrested and sent back to Mexico. If
an employer cheats you out of your wages or subjects you to dangerous working
conditions, you have no recourse in our law; no one will help you. You can't
open a bank account, so you carry your money in cash, in your pockets. As hard
as you try each day to stay out of trouble and keep working here, I see that you
are tugged in the other direction too. Your heart is in Mexico with your family,
isn't it? You are far from home, cold, tired, dusty, and lonely. It's New Year's
Eve and tonight you will have a bit of pan dulce and milk, just like the
children in your family so far away in Mexico.
Que le vaya bien, señor.
Que le vaya bien . . .
© 1999 Karen Kressin